Jan 30, 2006

Wikipedia vs US Congress

Wikipedia does not tolerante 'vandalism' or 'POV pushing', no matter where it comes from. Apparently, some people with IP address tracing back to US Congress have been engaging in just that - and it has gotten serious enough for Wikipedia community to implement one of the middle steps of the dispute resolution process, known as the Request for Comments. Earlier steps include normal taking and mediation, and the only step left after failed RfC (which is not binding) is the binding ruling by Wikipedia Arbitrators (during the process known as Request for Arbitration).

From Wikipedia page:
I am opening this RFC in order to centralise discussion concerning actions to be taken against US Congressional staffers who repeatedly engage in revert wars, blank content, engage in libelous behaviour or violate WP:NPOV, WP:CIV. The editors from these IP ranges are rude and abrasive, immature, and show no understanding of Wikipedia policy. The editors also frequently try to whitewash the actions of certain politicians. They treat Wikipedia articles about politicians as though they own the articles, replacing community articles with their own sanctioned biographies and engaging in revert wars when other users dispute this sudden change. They also violate Wikipedia:Verifiability, by deleting verified reports, while adding flattering things about members of Congress that are unverified.

The editors are currently blocked, but only for a week, so I feel this RFC is needed for the community to comment. I feel that a 1 week block is not enough.

It will be interesting to see if mainstream media picks that up.

Update: It did. Most of the Google News: Wikipedia stories are about this (note: link relevancy subject to change in few days).
See also this Wikinews story.

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Jan 20, 2006

Wiki news: the Tron chapter

It figures. I get a little bit behind on current happenings, and an interesting story has to pass me by :)

German Wikipedia was shut down for a few days by German court: big thumbs down for Germany, apparently joining China in an attempt to silence the reality (if only for a three days). Although it's nice to see that the judges had enough wit to lift the shut down orders, it should have never been issued in the first place. Let's hope this never again happens: imagine if just suing about some detail could couse a Wiki to be shut down.

If the parents of the deceased hacker 'Tron' wanted to keep the low-down status, they should've known better then to go against Wikipedia. The English wiki was never affected, as it is not a subject to any German verdict anyway, and the news buzz (and blog buzz) generated by their actions surely will have an opposite effect to what they wanted. For other interesting indicators, note that the page did not even exist on en-wiki before the shut down of de-wiki.

Wikipedia Signpost has it's own story on that, of course. Note it already has cost us at least 500 euro to deal with this... well, legal vandlism, I guess. It's really annoying to see that money donated by people of good will around the world has to be spent on such trivial issues. Update: as has been pointed out in the comments (tnx!), the 500 euro is a bail amount, thus refundable. Other costs are presently unknown AFAICT.

Conclusion: if you want to gain fame, try to be anonymous by acting as the elephant in the porcelain shop (that's a Polish proverb, btw).

On a related note, I wish I could read German.

Also, Wikipedia Signpost has an interestign article on constructive reactions to being slandered on Wiki.

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Wikibook special: the Lessig edition

I've learned recently that Lawrence Lessig, the Creative Commons champion, is engaging in yet another experiment: he is working on an update of his book (Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace), but instead of doing it alone - he has created a wiki (Code V.2) to recruit helpers.

A great idea, if anybody wants my opinion :)

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Movie advert

Polish Student Alliance
in Pittsburgh, PA

invites you to the
Movie of the week
: Seksmisja

When? January 26th 7:30PM-9:30PM

Where? 4130 Posvar Hall

Movie genre: Sci-fi, comedy

Year: 1984 Duration: 2 hours, 0 minutes Other: Color, Polish with English subtitles
Directed by Juliusz Machulski Starring Jerzy Stuhr, Olgierd Łukaszewicz, Beata Tyszkiewicz

A cult Polish production
The two main characters, Maks and Albert, played by Jerzy Stuhr and Olgierd Łukasiewicz, respectively, submit themselves to the first human hibernation experiment. Instead of being awakened after a few years, they wake up in the 21st century, in a post-nuclear world, where all humans have retreated to underground living facilities, and, what's most important, where men had died out as a result of subjection to a specific kind of radiation.

To be followed:

February 9 Rejs (1970)
February 23 (Ogniem i Mieczem, Part 1 of 2) (1999)

March 16 (Ogniem i Mieczem, Part 2 of 2) (1999)

Room opens at 7:00 p.m, so if you want to practice your Polish, feel free to arrive early and talk with us!


Jan 19, 2006

Jan 17, 2006

The AMV War

According to Lessig, the copyright hounds may be preparing for a new war, and their target are AMV (anime music videos). Lessig is optimistic that we will win - I hope so. Kudos to the AMV community, and to their defenders!

And if you haven't seen some, what are you still waiting for?

On a related note, reading Lessig's article on AMVs in FT I found this staggering sstatistic: According to a recent Pew study, almost 60 per cent of US teenagers have created and shared content on the internet. Now, in an excellent class I attended last term (Digital Governance, University of Pittsburgh, dr Stuart Shulman) I learned that only 4% of net users actually contribute the content. But if 60% of the new generation do it... can you imagine the consequences?

It will be BIG. And my mood just got much better :)

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Jan 16, 2006

The forgotten controvercies of Freud

I find it interesting, when assigned a reading by some academic (past or present), to read his biography. Much of one's work can be better understood in the context of one's experiences. And who'd be better for such analysis then the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud?

He is a much more interesting persona then I'd have thought. In the spirit of the early scientists, he experimented on himself - trying to come to grips with his own phobias. A compulsory smoker - he smoked a box of 30 cigarettes per day (!), an early user and proponent of cocaine as a stimulant, he destroyed his personal papers and notes at least twice. Additionally, his later papers were closely guarded in the Sigmund Freud Archives, access to which was restricted and spawned at least one controversy. Last but not least, his death was a suicide (via euthanasia due to cancer pain, to be precise).

We often look at Freud as the 'shrink', forgetting he was a prominent social theorist - sociologist - as well. After reviewing his various works I do have to say I find his approach to civilization and religion perhaps the most intriguing of his life's works. In Civilization and Its Discontents he presents a fairly pessimitsic, bleak view of our civilization: that by attempting to solve problems (lack of food, security) civilization forces us into unnatural behaviour (family, law) which thus results in mental sickness (neurosis and such). Religion, according to him, is similar to Marx 'opium for the masses. In the The Future of an Illusion he critizes ogranized religion as actually being a 'collective neurosis', arguings that religion has tamed asocial instincts and created a sense of community around a shared set of beliefs, thus helping the civilization, yet at the same time it has also exacted an enormous psychological cost to the individual by making him perpetually subordinate to the primal father figure embodied by God. Finally, in one of his last books, Moses and Monotheism, he deconstructs the Bible using his theories, arguing that Moses only led his close followers into freedom, and that they subsequently killed Moses in rebellion either to his strong faith or to circumcision. Freud explains that years after the murder of Moses the rebels formed a religion which promoted Moses as the Saviour of the Israelites. Freud said that the guilt from the murder of Moses is inherited through the generations; this guilt then drives us to religion to make us feel better.

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Jan 14, 2006

This and that

First a warp drive, now some phasers :) This, at least, was more to be expected.

For a government run near-monopoly, BBC is suprisingly innovative and user friendly: check out their new RSS feed initative.

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Jan 11, 2006


An interesting article: Isreali journalist comes to grip with Wikipedia. It's a nice, subjective - but fair - read. "Wikipedia is going to be around for yet another day." Yep :)

Chineese want their Wiki dose. "Chinese students and intellectuals are expressing outrage at Beijing's decision to prohibit access to Wikipedia, the fast-growing on-line encyclopedia that has become a basic resource for many in China." Good for them, let's hope they win.

Wikipedia itself, in the meantime, is electing it's judges. Yes, we have judges, lawyers, police... :)

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Jan 10, 2006

Jan 7, 2006

That came sooner then I expected...

KurzewilAI.net newsflash: A "hyperspace" engine that could make interstellar space travel a reality by flying into other dimensions is being investigated by the United States Air Force and Department of Energy.


Jan 5, 2006

Free Hacking Matter

A nice book about nanotechnology and programmable matter has been released as a free pdf. Enjoy - but beware of criticisms.

Also - check out this gadget - is the electronic paper newspaper here at last?

Jan 3, 2006


World Economic Forum Participants to Blog - that should be an interesting read

BusinessWeek speaks out against patents - let's hope somebody listens

P2P party - go Sweden, I'd vote for them :) This actually deserves a longer post, but I am tired and sick today, so just a thought: in the coming era of e-democracy, politicians (and parties) will increasingly concentrate on single matters, as they realize people don't have time to read long party manifestos, or go back and check how many of 1001 promises were kept. Logically this should lead to some politicians submitting every single of their desision to a vote of his electorate and voting as the majority wishes...

Jan 1, 2006

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Voice of the Prokonsul by Piotr Konieczny is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.